I admit this was not a brilliant plan – changing gear in flip flops is quite painful. I was unlucky enough to get pulled, and I have now just received a summons for riding while uninsured and with no helmet. My mate has been summonsed for allowing me to ride his bike whilst uninsured. I thought I was in the clear, because we were in a private caravan park which people use to get to the beach. Can I be nicked for riding on a private road without insurance?

Name withheld

This is a question of fact, but from what you have told me, if it is a road which members of the public use and have access to, then it is a public road. The test for a public highway is under the Road Traffic Act 1988, which provides that a road is ‘any highway and any other road to which the public have access’ and in order to get to the beach, you need to use the private road in the caravan park.

You have not told me what the road was like, but if it was like most roads in most caravan parks it will be a Tarmaced road, with kerbed edges, which to most observers looks like a road.

I’m afraid you do not have the technical defence of being on a private road. This bit of law has been tested on any number of occasions arising from insurance claims, drink driving, highway defect claims and such like, and the definition of a road to which the public have access is really very clear.

The riding without a helmet is a non-endorsable offence, so you do not need to worry about points for that. However, check your own policy of insurance for your own motorcycle carefully. Most motorcycle insurance policies cover the use of other motorcycles, not owned by you, and it is an unusual policy which does not have this. If you don’t have a motorcycle licence then have a look at your car policy which might also have the same clause on there, which is for any ‘motor vehicle’ which you do not own, but which you are licensed to drive.

If you can show that you were in fact insured under your own bike policy or your own car policy, then your mate has not committed an offence under Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act, which is the offence of allowing your vehicle to be used whilst uninsured.

You may have a defence, but I think you have just picked the wrong one. I suspect the copper was more interested in pulling you just because you were riding without a helmet and in kit which would have meant, even at a very low speed, that had you come off you would have got a bad skinning, and probably would have cost you a couple of toes, too.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes Magazine – July 2010

Andrew Dalton has been writing articles for Fast Bikes Magazine for a considerable period and have condensed what we believe are the most useful articles to you. White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors deal with personal injury claims and our sister company, Motor Defence Solicitors, deal with any road traffic offences.